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By John Chard June 4, 2019
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953, sharp and very clued into the times.
Other than Ridley Scott's brilliant Thelma And Louise 1991, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has to rank as one of the finest films where the girls actually out buddy buddy the men!!
It would seem that a chief complaint with the film is that it has no similarity to Anita Loo's Broadway musical? And whilst I'm one for pounding on films for missing out crucial parts of source novels, I have no frame of reference as regards this films original source so therefore view with untainted eyes as it were.
Viewing it these days you have to admire the cheek of it all. I mean it really shouldn't work because on the face of it this is just a couple of showgirls taking a trip, but the blatant use of stereotypes for these two ladies is deftly funny. Monroe is absolutely perfect for the role of Lorelei, a woman purely out for the sparkle of diamonds and a man's bank balance, she is as much shallow as she is to die for gorgeous. Jane Russell is also sublime here, her Dorothy Shaw is witty and sophisticated and very protective towards her friend, yet she also needs to be loved and this shines out amongst the sarcasm and sharpness dripping off of her tongue.
The film works on more than one level, it's a sugar and sweet musical with glamour girls to feast my eyes upon, but also it works as a sharp piece of work when taking into account the era it was made. The 50s (my research and my parents led me to believe) were very much the time of family values being paramount, yet around the time of this pic's release, sex was becoming more of a topic to the people of the street. Playboy with Marilyn on the center was about to turn heads, and of course Kinsey and his report was just around the corner. So upon watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes now I can't help thinking that Howard Hawks had his finger firmly on the pulse by throwing away the big show time of the source, and then making a film that saw the wind of change with people's attitudes.
Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but we get some tidy numbers from the girls and some sharp dialogue coupled with hilarious visual comedy. A very smart and astute film that's knowing of the times that were a changing, and featuring a dynamic female duo to rank with the best that cinema has to offer. 7/10